The Bible

John 20:19-31 : Christ Appears to the Disciples in an Upper Room, and Doubting Thomas

Study the Inner Meaning

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27 Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 96, 2397, 2628, 2724, 2798, 2921, 3006, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 12, 81, 343, 520, 618, 839, 962

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 32, 120

Divine Love and Wisdom 383

Divine Providence 230, 324

The Lord 19, 20, 35, 41, 51

Faith 10

Heaven and Hell 287, 461

True Christian Religion 140, 146, 153, 188, 298, 303, 337, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 286


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 53, 102, 130, 183, 254, 365, 419, ...

Canons of the New Church 39, 43

Divine Wisdom 6

Miracles and Signs 18

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 5, 14, 64

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



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Resources for parents and teachers

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Commentary

Two Meetings in Jerusalem after the Resurrection

By Joe David

The risen Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. 22.4.2010: Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Emilio Romagna, Italy.

Late on the first Easter Sunday, after the Lord had risen from the sepulcher, ten of the disciples gathered for the evening in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem (John 20). They were afraid and probably confused. Since their leader had been crucified by the Roman power, as organized by their own Jewish leaders, they feared that now his followers might also be hunted down and punished. They closed and locked the doors. Were any of the women there? The story does not say, but Peter and John were, who saw and talked with the angels that morning, and the stories of the women were known. Some time must have been spent wondering and perhaps arguing - was He really alive? How could they know it was really Him? This kind of thing, coming back to life after you’re dead, this doesn’t happen in this real world, there must be some mistake!

Then two of the followers, not of the twelve, but the two that had gone to the village of Emmaus, came in, excited and bursting with their news. They had seen Him! They had walked with Him for seven miles and He had told them wondrous things! They had only recognized Him when He broke bread and ate with them. "Don’t doubt us, it really was Jesus!"

And then as they all talked and argued, there He was, standing with them in the room. "Peace be unto you," He said, and He showed them His hands and feet and His side, where he was wounded. He calmed them, and told them that just as he had come down to mankind, so they must go out and teach to all people all the true things that He had taught in the years He was with them.

It was these truths about how to live one’s life that were saving, not the disciples themselves. These saving truths have the power to remit or retain sins, because they were from the Lord, the disciples only transmitted them from the Lord to those who would listen and take them to heart. Then He breathed on them - representing His holy spirit - so that they would not only want to pass these truths on to people, but would also be given the words to say whenever the times came. And then He was gone again.

Thomas was not there that night. We don’t know why. And Thomas, when he heard the story, just could not swallow it. "Except I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe", he said. (John 20:25.)

The next verse tells us that the next Sunday they gathered again, and that Thomas was present this time. As before, the Lord was suddenly there, saying again, "Peace be unto you", and then directly to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger… and reach hither thy hand… and be not faithless but believing". Now Thomas's response was, "my Lord and my God". It seems as if the Lord came this time just to convince Thomas, because it was Thomas who needed Him.

I think He does work this way. I am reminded of another story, from the gospel of Mark (Mark 9:17-27) where a father comes to Jesus with a young son who is possessed by a devil, and asks Jesus to cure him, and is asked in turn: "Do you believe I can do this?" In Mark 9:24 the father responds. Crying out, he said with tears, "I believe, help thou my unbelief."

I think many people have this conflict between lingering doubts and a desire to have the doubts taken away. If we carry on and make our decisions in life as if the doubts were indeed gone, then indeed they will lose their strength and actually will be gone.

These are the only details given of these two meetings in Jerusalem. Chronologically the next post-Easter stories are the ones that take place in Galilee.

John does go on to say at the end of his gospel "...many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God...." (John 20:30-31). Perhaps there were more post-Easter stories that weren't written down, but the ones we do have are strong. For the disciples who were involved, there was an unstoppable impact from the life and teachings of the Lord, and His crucifixion, and physical death, and now - in these stories - His resurrection. Hearing the Lord's charges to them, these Galilean fishermen and their colleagues launch out into the wide world, and work to achieve the Great Commission, enduring hardships and persecution, and succeeding - probably beyond their wildest dreams!

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #183

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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183. These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God. That this signifies the Lord from whom come all the truths of heaven and of the church is evident from the fact that it is the Son of man who says these things, and also those which are addressed to the angels of the other churches; and the Son of man is the Lord as to the Divine Human (as may be seen above, n. 63, 151). By the seven spirits of God are meant all the truths of heaven and of the church, because the Spirit of God in the Word signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord. In many passages in the Word mention is made of spirit, and this, when said of man, signifies Divine truth received in his life, thus his spiritual life; but when said of the Lord it signifies the Divine which proceeds from Him, which in general terms is called Divine truth. But because few at this day know what is meant by spirit in the Word, I desire first to show from quotations, that spirit, when said of man, signifies Divine truth received in the life, thus his spiritual life. Now as these two things, the good of love and the truth of faith, constitute the spiritual life of man, therefore, in several passages in the Word, mention is made of heart and spirit, and also of heart and soul; by heart is signified the good of love, and by spirit the truth of faith; the latter is also signified by soul, for by this term in the Word is meant man's spirit.

That by spirit, when said of man, is signified truth received in the life, is evident from the following passages.

(References: Revelation 3:1; The Apocalypse Explained 63, The Apocalypse Explained 151)


[2] In Ezekiel:

"Make you a new heart and a new spirit; why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (xviii. 31).

In the same:

"A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I give in the midst of you" (xxxvi. 26).

In David:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a firm spirit within me. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart God does not despise" (Ps. li. 10, 17).

In these passages heart signifies the good of love, and spirit the truth of faith, from which man has spiritual life; for there are two things that constitute man's life, good and truth; these his spiritual life.

(References: Ezekiel 18:31, Ezekiel 36:26; Psalms 51:10, 51:10-12, 51:17)


[3] Because heart signifies good, and spirit truth, when both are received in the life, therefore heart, in the opposite sense, signifies evil, and spirit falsity; for most expressions in the Word have also an opposite sense. Heart and spirit are used in this sense in the following passages in David:

"A generation that sets not their heart aright, and whose spirit is not steadfast with God" (Ps. lxxviii. 8).

In Ezekiel:

"Every heart shall melt, and every spirit shall faint" (xxi. 7).

In Moses:

"Jehovah hath made heavy the spirit of the king of Heshbon, and hath hardened his heart" (Deut. ii. 30).

In Isaiah:

"Conceive chaff, bring forth stubble; fire shall devour your spirit" (xxxiii. 11).

In Ezekiel:

"Woe unto the foolish prophets, who go away after their own spirit" (xiii. 3).

In the same:

"That which ascendeth upon your spirit shall never come to pass" (xx. 32).

(References: Deuteronomy 2:30; Ezekiel 13:3, Ezekiel 20:32, 21:7; Isaiah 33:11; Psalms 78:8)


[4] From these considerations it is evident, that the whole of man's life is meant by heart and spirit; and because his whole life has reference to these two, namely, to good and truth, and, in the spiritual sense, to love and faith, therefore, by heart and spirit those two lives are meant. This is also why heart and spirit signify man's will and understanding, because these two faculties constitute his life; for a man has no life but in those faculties; the reason is, that the will is the receptacle of good and its love, or of evil and its love, and the understanding is the receptacle of truth and its faith, or of falsity and its faith, and, as has been said, all things in man have reference to good and truth or to evil and falsity, and, in the spiritual sense, to love and faith (see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 28-35). The reason why by spirit, when said of man, is signified truth or falsity, and hence his life from the one or the other is, that by spirit is properly meant the spirit which is in man, and which thinks, and this it does either from truths or from falsities. But, as said above, the two things that constitute man's life are understanding and will. The life of the understanding is to think from either truths or falsities, and the life of the will is to affect, or inflame with love, those things which the understanding thinks. These two lives of a man's spirit correspond to the two lives of his body, which are the life of the respiration of the lungs and the life of the pulse of the heart; man's spirit is united to the body by this correspondence (as may be seen above, n. 167, and in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 446, 447).

(References: Heaven and Hell 446-447; The Apocalypse Explained 167; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 28-35)


[5] Because of this correspondence, the spirit is so named from a term which, in the original, and in several other languages, signifies wind; therefore to expire is frequently expressed in the Word by giving up the spirit. Thus in David:

"I have taken away their spirit, he has expired" (Ps. civ. 29).

In Ezekiel:

The Lord Jehovih said to the dry bones, "Behold, I bring spirit into you, that ye may live: and the Lord Jehovih said, Come from the four winds, O spirit, and breathe into these slain; and the spirit came into them, and they lived again" (xxxvii. 5, 9, 10).

In the Apocalypse:

"The two witnesses were slain by the beast that came up out of the abyss, but after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet" (xi. 7, 11).

In Luke:

Jesus, taking the hand of the dead maid, "cried, saying, Maid, arise; and her spirit came again, and she arose straightway" (viii. 54, 55).

(References: Ezekiel 37:5, 37:9-10; Luke 8:54-55; Psalms 104:29; Revelation 11:7, 11:11)


[6] When these passages are understood it will be evident what is signified by spirit when said of man, in numerous places in the Word, from which the following only shall be adduced; as in John:

"Except anyone be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit" (iii. 5, 8).

In the same:

The Lord breathed on the disciples, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (xx. 21, 22).

In the Book of Genesis:

"Jehovah breathed into man's nostrils the breath of lives" (ii. 7);

besides other places.

(References: Genesis 2:7; John 3:5, 3:8, John 20:21-22, 20:22)


[7] That spirit, in the spiritual sense, signifies truth, and man's life thence derived, which is intelligence, is quite clear from the following passages. In John:

"The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (iv. 23).

In Daniel:

"In him was an excellent spirit of knowledge and understanding. I have heard concerning thee that the spirit of God is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in thee" (v. 12, 14).

In Moses:

"Thou shalt speak unto all the wise in heart, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom" (Exod. xxviii. 3).

In Luke:

John "grew, and waxed strong in spirit" (i. 80).

And concerning the Lord,

Jesus "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was filled with wisdom" (ii. 40).

(References: Daniel 5:12, 5:14; Exodus 28:3; John 4:23; Luke 1:80, 2:40)


[8] When it is known what is signified by the term spirit when used in reference to man, its meaning may be known when said of Jehovah, or the Lord, to whom are attributed all the things which a man has, face, eyes, ears, arms, hands, as also heart and soul, thus also spirit, which in the Word is called the spirit of God, the spirit of Jehovah, the spirit of His nostrils, the spirit of His mouth, the spirit of truth, the spirit of holiness, and the Holy Spirit, by which is meant Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, as is evident from many passages in the Word.

The reason why Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is the spirit of God is, that all the life which men possess is therefrom, as also the heavenly life of those who receive that Divine truth in faith and life. That this is the spirit of God, the Lord himself teaches in John:

"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (vi. 63).

In Isaiah:

"There shall go forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse: the spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might" (xi. 1, 2).

Again:

"I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the nations" (xlii. 1).

Again:

"When [the enemy] shall come like a river, the spirit of Jehovah shall lift up a standard against him" (lix. 19).

Again:

"The spirit of the Lord Jehovih is upon me, therefore Jehovah hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor" (lxi. 1).

And in John:

"He whom the Father hath sent, speaketh the words of God; for God hath not given the spirit by measure" (iii. 34);

this is said of the Lord. That the Holy Spirit is Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, is evident in John:

"I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. When he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, he shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you" (xvi. 7, 13, 14).

(References: Isaiah 11:1-2, Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 59:19, 61:1; John 3:34, John 6:63, John 16:7, John 16:13-14)


[9] That the Comforter, here mentioned, is Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is quite clear; for it is said the Lord himself spoke "the truth" to them, and declared that, when He should go away, He would send the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who should guide them into all truth, and that He would not speak from himself but from the Lord. It is here said, he shall receive of mine, because Divine truths proceed from the Lord; and mine is said of what proceeds; for the Lord himself is Divine love, and that which proceeds from Him is Divine truth, thus is His own (see what is said in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 139, 140, and the preceding numbers, and in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 307). That to go forth and to proceed is meant by being sent and sending, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia, n. 2397, 4710, 6831, 10,561; in like manner here by I will send Him unto you.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2397, 4710, Arcana Coelestia 6831, 10561; Heaven and Hell 139-140; John 14:26, John 16:7, John 16:13-14; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 307)


[10] That the Comforter is the Holy Spirit is evident in John:

"The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, he shall teach you all things " (xiv. 26).

In the same:

Jesus stood and cried with a loud voice: "Saying, If anyone thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (vii. 37-39).

That the Holy Spirit is Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, which flows into man, both immediately from the Lord Himself and mediately by angels and spirits, is clear also from the above words. For the Lord declares that he who believes on Him, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; and then it is added that He spake this concerning the Spirit which they should receive; for water, in the spiritual sense, signifies truth, and rivers of living water, Divine truth from the Lord in abundance; the same is therefore meant by the Spirit which they should receive. (That water signifies truth, and living water Divine truth, may be seen above, n. 71.) And because Divine truth proceeds from the Lord's Human glorified, and not immediately from His Divine itself, because this was glorified in itself from eternity, it is therefore here said,

"The Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

(That to glorify is to make Divine, and that the Lord fully glorified His Human, that is, made it Divine by his last temptation and victory on the cross, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 293-295, 300-306.)

(References: John 7:37-39, John 14:26; The Apocalypse Explained 71; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 293-295, The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 300-306)


[11] In heaven they greatly wonder that those who form the church do not know that the Holy Spirit, which is Divine truth, proceeds from the Lord's Human, and not immediately from His Divine, when, notwithstanding, the doctrine received in the whole Christian world teaches that, - "As is the Father, so also is the Son, uncreate, infinite, eternal, omnipotent, God, Lord; neither of them is first or last, nor greatest or least. Christ is God and man: God from the nature of the Father, and man from the nature of the mother; but although He is God and man, yet nevertheless there are not two, but one Christ; He is one, not by changing the Divinity into the humanity, but by the Divinity receiving to itself the humanity. He is altogether one, not by a commixing of two natures, but one person alone, because as the body and soul are one man, so God and man is one Christ." This is from the creed of Athanasius.

Now because the Lord's Divine and Human are not two, but one Person alone, and are united as the soul and body, it can be known that the Divine which is called the Holy Spirit goes forth and proceeds from His Divine by means of the Human, thus from the Divine Human; for nothing whatever can proceed from the body except out of the soul by means of the body, because all the life of the body is from its soul. And because, as is the Father so is the Son, uncreate, infinite, eternal, omnipotent, God and Lord, and neither of them is first or last, nor greatest or least, it follows that the proceeding Divine, which is called the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Divine itself of the Lord by means of His Human, and not from another Divine which is called the Father; for the Lord teaches that He and the Father are one, and that the Father is in Him and He in the Father (concerning which, see below, n. 200). But the reason why most of those in the Christian world think otherwise in their hearts, and consequently believe otherwise, the angels have said is from the fact that they think of the Human of the Lord as separate from His Divine; which nevertheless is contrary to the doctrine that teaches that the Divine and Human of the Lord are not two persons, but one Person alone, and united as soul and body.

That this is in the doctrine of the whole Christian world was provided by the Lord, because it is the essential of the church, and the essential of the salvation of all. But that they have divided the Divine and Human of the Lord into two natures, and have said that the Lord is God from the nature of the Father, and man from the nature of the mother, was because they did not know that when the Lord fully glorified His Human He put off the Human taken from the mother, and put on that from the Father (according to what is shown in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 295). That this distinction was also made in a certain council, on account of the Pope, by those who were then present, in order that he might be acknowledged as the Lord's vicar, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia, n. 4738.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4738; The Apocalypse Explained 200; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 295)


[12] That the Spirit of God is Divine truth, and hence spiritual life to the man who receives it, is further evident from the following passages. In Micah:

"I am full of power with the Spirit of Jehovah, and of judgment" (iii. 8).

In Isaiah:

"I will pour out waters upon him that is thirsty, and rivulets upon the dry ground, and my spirit upon thy seed" (xliv. 3).

Again:

"In that day shall Jehovah of hosts be for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them" (xxviii. 5, 6).

In Ezekiel:

"That ye may know that I will put my spirit in you that ye may live" (xxxvii. 14).

In Joel:

"I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and also upon the men-servants, and upon the handmaids" (ii. 28).

In the Apocalypse:

"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (xix. 10).

Because the Spirit of God signifies Divine truth, it is therefore called

the Spirit of the mouth of Jehovah (Ps. xxxiii. 6)

"the spirit of his lips" (Isa. xi. 4);

"the breath of God," and "the spirit of his nostrils" (Lam. iv. 20; Ps. xviii. 15; Job. iv. 9).

In Matthew:

John said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (iii. 11).

To baptize, in the spiritual sense, signifies to regenerate; the Holy Spirit is Divine truth, and fire is Divine good. (That to baptize signifies to regenerate, may be see above, n. 71; and that fire is the good of love, n. 68.)

(References: Acts of the Apostles 4:9; Ezekiel 37:13-14, 37:14; Isaiah 11:4, 28:5-6, Isaiah 44:3; Job 4:9; Joel 2:28, Joel 2:28-29; Lamentations 4:20; Matthew 3:11; Micah 3:8; Psalms 18:15, 18:16, 33:6; Revelation 19:10; The Apocalypse Explained 68, 71)


[13] From these considerations it is now evident what is meant by the words of the Lord to His disciples:

"Going . . . baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (xxviii. 19).

Here by the Father is meant the Divine itself, by the Son, the Divine Human, and by the Holy Spirit, the proceeding Divine which is Divine truth: thus one Divine, and yet a trinity. That this is the case, the Lord teaches in John:

"From these things ye know" the Father, "and have seen him. He that seeth me seeth the Father. I am in the Father, and the Father in me" (xiv. 7, 9, 10).

(References: John 14:7, 14:9-10; Matthew 28:19)


[14] Because the proceeding Divine, which is Divine truth, flows into man both immediately and mediately by angels and spirits, it is therefore believed that the Holy Spirit is a third person, distinct from the two called Father and Son; but I can assert that no one in heaven knows any other Holy Divine Spirit but the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord. And because the Divine truth is communicated to men also mediately by means of angels, it is therefore said of Jehovah in David,

"Jehovah God maketh his angels spirits" (Ps. civ. 1, 4).

These things are now adduced to show that by the seven spirits are signified all the truths of heaven and the church from the Lord. That the seven spirits denote all the truths of heaven and the church, becomes more evident from these passages in the Apocalypse:

"The seven lamps of fire burning before the throne are the seven spirits of God" (iv. 5).

And moreover,

"In the midst of the elders stood a lamb, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth" (v. 6).

That the spirits there mentioned do not mean spirits, is clear from the fact that the lamps, and the eyes of the Lamb are called spirits; for lamps signify Divine truths and eyes the understanding of truth; and when these are said of the Lord, His Divine wisdom and intelligence are meant (concerning which see above, n. 152).

(References: Ezekiel 37:13-14; Joel 2:28-29; John 20:21-22; Psalms 51:10-12, Psalms 104:1, 104:4; Revelation 3:1, 4:5, 5:6; The Apocalypse Explained 152)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 181, 204, 230, 274, 318, 343, 665, 684, 831, 922

Other New Christian Commentary

Spirit 1


Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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